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Utility Warehouse just broke into my house

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Dear all,

 

I am incredibly angry as I have just returned home from work to find my house in disarray due to Utility Warehouse breaking in and installing a prepayment box for both my electricity and gas and a bill for £1,691. No instructions were left for the electricity meter, nor were payment keys/cards for either.... helpfully they left keys for the door lock they broke into and changed.

 

I moved to this 2 bed flat in the middle of January 2010 as the previous tennant left due to redundancy. We received bills addressed to her that we forwarded to the letting agent for the first week and I believe she was in financial difficulty. We havent received any letters through the door addressed to her since so I imagine she redirected all mail to her new location. We assumed that we would receive an annual bill (which wouldnt be a problem to afford) from whoever our supplier was for gas and electricity as it was all connected when we moved in (I took a meter reading also), but we received no notification of non payment or anything addressed to 'the present occupier'. I am now faced with having to use a top up meter for both utilities, when I was more than happy to pay my bill in full.

 

Does anybody have any advice on what my rights are and if I can get this reversed? I have tried calling the Utility Warehouse but the number rings and rings and no one answers. Helpfully UW left a telephone number on the letter but no opening times for call centres etc.. An unbelievable disgrace of a way to treat a person once they have broken into your own home. My partner is in shock and is scared to be home alone after she got in from work and saw the cupboards open and things on the floor.

 

If anyone can help, or has any advice it will be very much appreciated as I will be seeking legal action if I cannot resolve this out of the courts.

 

Thank you

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To enter the proeprty, they should have had a Warrant of Entry granted by a Magistrate under the Rights of Entry (gas and electricity boards) act 1954.

 

A notice of intent should have been left at the property, addressed to "the occupier" or similar at least two weeks prior to the date they intend to enter the premises - these letters from my knowledge must be delivered by hand, and the visit also serves as an opportunity to discuss the situation.

 

Try contacting UW before 8pm as this is the time call centres tend to close, the action that has been taken has clearly been as a result of them not being informed of the change in tenancy and therefore assuming that the previous occupier has witheld payment; is there any particular reason why you didn't contact the supplier when you moved in to register your details - you can never rely on a letting agent or landlord

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Shouldn't you contact the police ?

They had no rights to break into your property without giving prior legal notice.

 

Equally, as you are a tenant - you need to contact your landlord. I assume you are not normally allowed to change the locks under the terms of your lease. UWs action would mean the Landlord is without a key to their own premises. They need to be informed immediately. I would also think they would not be too happy to find a pre-payment meter in their property.

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Dear all,

 

I am incredibly angry as I have just returned home from work to find my house in disarray due to Utility Warehouse breaking in and installing a prepayment box for both my electricity and gas and a bill for £1,691. No instructions were left for the electricity meter, nor were payment keys/cards for either.... helpfully they left keys for the door lock they broke into and changed.

 

I moved to this 2 bed flat in the middle of January 2010 as the previous tennant left due to redundancy. We received bills addressed to her that we forwarded to the letting agent for the first week and I believe she was in financial difficulty. We havent received any letters through the door addressed to her since so I imagine she redirected all mail to her new location. We assumed that we would receive an annual bill (which wouldnt be a problem to afford) from whoever our supplier was for gas and electricity as it was all connected when we moved in (I took a meter reading also) but we received no notification of non payment or anything addressed to 'the present occupier'. I am now faced with having to use a top up meter for both utilities, when I was more than happy to pay my bill in full.

 

Does anybody have any advice on what my rights are and if I can get this reversed? I have tried calling the Utility Warehouse but the number rings and rings and no one answers. Helpfully UW left a telephone number on the letter but no opening times for call centres etc.. An unbelievable disgrace of a way to treat a person once they have broken into your own home. My partner is in shock and is scared to be home alone after she got in from work and saw the cupboards open and things on the floor.

 

If anyone can help, or has any advice it will be very much appreciated as I will be seeking legal action if I cannot resolve this out of the courts.

 

Thank you

 

When you moved in

 

Did you tell a Utility suppier that you moved in and ask for the account to be put in your name and give them a meter reading from date you moved in ?


Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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Actually it is not always up to the incoming tenant. It could be up to the letting agent. Dependent on the time lapse between outgoing and incoming tenant, the utilities could revert back to the Landlord's name.

The outgoing tenant hands in notice and asks for final bill. If they did this, then UW had no rights to break in cos they would have known that the tenant was a tenant and had left the premises. If this is so - then perhaps it is the Landlord who has problems too ? 5-6 months without communication from the utility supplier and then this action goes against their code of conduct....

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Shouldn't you contact the police ?

They had no rights to break into your property without giving prior legal notice.

 

Equally, as you are a tenant - you need to contact your landlord. I assume you are not normally allowed to change the locks under the terms of your lease. UWs action would mean the Landlord is without a key to their own premises. They need to be informed immediately. I would also think they would not be too happy to find a pre-payment meter in their property.

 

Police would just say it's a civil matter,if you read what nottslad wrote,if they had a warranty,they can clearly do what they have done

 

Break in....

 

Actually it is not always up to the incoming tenant. It could be up to the letting agent. Dependent on the time lapse between outgoing and incoming tenant, the utilities could revert back to the Landlord's name.

The outgoing tenant hands in notice and asks for final bill. If they did this, then UW had no rights to break in cos they would have known that the tenant was a tenant and had left the premises. If this is so - then perhaps it is the Landlord who has problems too ? 5-6 months without communication from the utility supplier and then this action goes against their code of conduct....

 

I think your confusing the issue until Blomquist has replied !

 

I certain wouldn't rely on a LL or letting agent to tell the utilities suppliers of a change of tenant in a flat....

Edited by 45002

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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There appears to have been no warrant sent to OP. So it is a violation of this tenant's rights of peaceful tenancy.

 

Firstly, there was an old tenant and OP believes the problems are due to old tenant - not the OP.

 

Old tenant moves out. There was/is a letting agent working on behalf of the landlord. Post for old tenant was given to the letting agent, so it is clear the agent either acted for the old tenant and knew their forwarding address or passed the mail onto the landlord. If Landlord got the mail then they would clearly act as it is their property after all and I can not imagine they would want UW breaking in.... If letting agent did nothing with the mail then they are at fault and a claim could be made against them for failure of duty as agent. And if agent does know forwarding address of the old tenant, now is the time to force them to act properly and give the information to the utility company. There is normally a clause in the TAs allowing agents to pass the tenants details on to utility companies incase of disputes....

 

Bottom line is that if the OP moved in Jan, yes they should have let the utility company know, but unless the OP is not telling us all the story, then this breaking in is far too quick from move in to action, without any form of communication from the utility company. The OP must have had bills addressed to the customer ? If not, why not ? UW can't just break in? They have a duty to liaise with the consumer. And they need to verify that the tenant in situ is the person responsible for the bills.

 

They can not just break in without this warrant. So where is it ? And who signed for it ?

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Hi All,

 

Thank you for your responses.

 

There appears to have been no warrant sent to OP. So it is a violation of this tenant's rights of peaceful tenancy.

 

Firstly, there was an old tenant and OP believes the problems are due to old tenant - not the OP.

 

Old tenant moves out. There was/is a letting agent working on behalf of the landlord. Post for old tenant was given to the letting agent, so it is clear the agent either acted for the old tenant and knew their forwarding address or passed the mail onto the landlord. If Landlord got the mail then they would clearly act as it is their property after all and I can not imagine they would want UW breaking in.... If letting agent did nothing with the mail then they are at fault and a claim could be made against them for failure of duty as agent. And if agent does know forwarding address of the old tenant, now is the time to force them to act properly and give the information to the utility company. There is normally a clause in the TAs allowing agents to pass the tenants details on to utility companies incase of disputes....

 

Bottom line is that if the OP moved in Jan, yes they should have let the utility company know, but unless the OP is not telling us all the story, then this breaking in is far too quick from move in to action, without any form of communication from the utility company. The OP must have had bills addressed to the customer ? If not, why not ? UW can't just break in? They have a duty to liaise with the consumer. And they need to verify that the tenant in situ is the person responsible for the bills.

 

They can not just break in without this warrant. So where is it ? And who signed for it ?

 

 

I have received no warrant, no representative knocking on my door or any mention of any awareness of this case by my landlord or letting agent. The first I knew of this was coming home to find the prepayment meters installed and a "notice of prepayment installation". the notice says on it that they obtained a right of entry warrant, but I have not seen the warrant.

 

When I moved into the flat I was told by the letting agent to wait until a bill arrives for the present occupier in order to set up my gas/electricity, as they had not been able to contact the previous tenant to ask who the provider is. I'd admit that I could have done further investigation, but I certainly feel that this action is incredibly drastic considering I have received NO OTHER notification addressed to the present occupier or even a letter in the previous tenants name (I imagine they have all mail routed to their new address via Royal Mail) stating the course of action utility warehouse will take, or even that the bill urgently needed paying! Nobody even had the decency to knock on my door or hand deliver a letter.

 

As you can imagine, this is a terribly embarressing situation to go to my landlord about and I want to weigh up all of the options to find out if it can be resolved, before I do so as I believe I have done no wrong. I believe Utility Warehouse have acted unlawfully in gaining entry to my home without notifying me of the situation. Amazingly I would've been happy to pay the bill, I just didn't know who my supplier was!

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you need to speak to your landlord. That you must do It is not your fault....

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Post removed.

Edited by zazen.warrior

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Why did you not find out who the supplier was?

 

Why did you expect to receive an annual bill?

 

Presumably all the letters regarding this went to the old tenant who understandably wasn't too interested as it would not impact on her.

 

The first thing I would do in a newly rented property is to change the locks. The LL has no right of access without prior warning.

 

The very close second would be to take meter reads, establish who my supplier is and advise them I had moved in.

 

Any power company would be able to tell you or the letting agent who the supplier is.

 

A disasterously un-helpful response there Zazen. Initially changing the locks is irrelevant. If you read my post you will see that UTILITY WAREHOUSE obviously hired a locksmith to break in, not my landlord. Although I understand your insight into your 'list of new letting routine', It is totally irrelavant in my situation. Many thanks.

 

HP Mum:

 

you need to speak to your landlord. That you must do It is not your fault....

 

I will speak to my landlord now as I know I have been unlawfully treated, thank you for your kind help.

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Post removed.

Edited by zazen.warrior

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Forget about phoning Utility Warehouse, send letters to Utility Warehouse,

make sure they are sent Recorded. Make sure they are addressed for the attention of the MD of Utlity Warehouse. Make sure the letter is headed

Complaint. Once you've done that and if your still not happy,

take the following actions.

 

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Consumers/Pages/Consumer.aspx?sid=frontpage

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Great, thank you Rebel, very helpful.

 

I have already called UW though and the first rep screamed at me after I asked her if she had ever heard of royal mail redirection, as this is what I believEd the previous tenaNt had used, she shouted that she had never heard of it and threw the phone down (someone should've told her it was MY house UTILITY WAREHOUSE broke into, not hers). The second rep was more helpful and could clearly see that I was honestly trying to resolve the matter. She told me that a company rep came to my doorstep (I wasnt in) way back in february to give the previous tenant a hand delivered letter. I do not recall any letter, and I had clearly ONLY been in the property a month... hardly capable of rounding up a debt large enough to deserve such attention. I also asked the rep if it was an adequate legal timeframe to request entry to my property considering I have been here 6 months. She said it was. I provided her with the meter reading from when I moved in and she has asked me to fax in my tenancy agreement to correalate the dates I moved in. Should I continue on this route or should I commence litigation?

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The more communication you do in writing will help any litigation that you might do later. The judge needs to see that you have taken all avenues to resolve your complaint and is less likely to award costs against you later.

 

Great, thank you Rebel, very helpful.

 

I have already called UW though and the first rep screamed at me after I asked her if she had ever heard of royal mail redirection, as this is what I believEd the previous tenaNt had used, she shouted that she had never heard of it and threw the phone down (someone should've told her it was MY house UTILITY WAREHOUSE broke into, not hers). The second rep was more helpful and could clearly see that I was honestly trying to resolve the matter. She told me that a company rep came to my doorstep (I wasnt in) way back in february to give the previous tenant a hand delivered letter. I do not recall any letter, and I had clearly ONLY been in the property a month... hardly capable of rounding up a debt large enough to deserve such attention. I also asked the rep if it was an adequate legal timeframe to request entry to my property considering I have been here 6 months. She said it was. I provided her with the meter reading from when I moved in and she has asked me to fax in my tenancy agreement to correalate the dates I moved in. Should I continue on this route or should I commence litigation?

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I would change suppliers as soon as possible as ther are a number of threads on this forum regarding UW and [causing problems] people. Read them and then make up your own mind.

To enter the premises would have required a warrant and bailiffs and their fees have been included along with the outstanding debt. Not sure why you left it so long before contacting any supplier as you must have know that you will have utility bills.

I know you may not like this, but in a way it is partly your fault even though you never received any notification, however that is now water under the bridge and you need to move forward and get registered with another electric supplier and a gas supplier.

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Toally agree. Truth be told, in my ignorance I didn't realise you could call any supplier and they would inform me who we are using. My letting agent said wait for a bill so I could sort it out, but it never appeared and then THIS. I'm happy to pay off any outstanding debt I owe, I just wish I was made aware of the situation before they broke in and will now charge me for the pleasure. I believe this process to be unlawful and I think if THEY had done a little more research, they would've been able to adequately penalise the previous tenant, and also help me to change the account into my name. I have now been punished and defamed beyond my actual situation because of UW's inability to try and locate and contact the previous tenant. It's difficult to ascertain whether somebody is honest via a forum for the disgruntled, but in all truth, nobody put a letter through my door about this and nor was my letting agent contacted. It's just lazy professionalism, "we can't be bothered to research, so just bill the old address".. surely the previous tenant is now using a new service provider? Surely if British gas know I'm using UW, then UW will know who she is using and where? baffled.

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No, the utilities have access to databases that list which company supplies which property, not who is using it

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A disasterously un-helpful response there Zazen. Initially changing the locks is irrelevant. If you read my post you will see that UTILITY WAREHOUSE obviously hired a locksmith to break in, not my landlord. Although I understand your insight into your 'list of new letting routine', It is totally irrelavant in my situation. Many thanks.

 

 

He is spot on Blomquist,you should have not just left it

 

When I moved into the flat I was told by the letting agent to wait until a bill arrives

 

You should have contact a utility company as soon as you moved in and not have listened to the letting agent.

 

You need to put aside for the moment this break in sort out the meters

 

Your going to have to prove to Utility Warehouse,who you are,the date you moved in and meter reading you noted when you moved in all in writing,when this has been sorted i would then sort out this so called break in

 

Why you may ask,those pre-payment meters installed will soon cut off your supply off and you will need to top them up,the meters will have been set to recover the debt and you would have to pay for cost of daily use of gas and electric.

 

i sure nottslad will explain how pre-payment meter work if i missed something. :cool:

Edited by 45002

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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I disagree that it is the OPs fault.

 

Quite clearly UW want money for an old debt. OP is not liable for that debt. OP is not liable for any dca charges nor is he liable for the costs of fitting a pre-paid meter or any additional costs added to his current and future bills if he stays with UW.

UW's behaviour is clearly unacceptable.

They broke into someone's home chasing someone else's debt without verifying who lives in that home now. That is wrong.

 

Now, the first thing to do is speak to the LL. The LL either knows about this problem and should bear the costs or is in the dark and is bound to be extremely angry at having new locks and prepayment meter in the property and will legally pursue the old tenant through the courts for reimbursement of all the costs. As a LL myself, I would be furious.

It is actually not your problem, even though you think / feel it is right now. It is the LL's. You have every right to distance yourself from this issue.

 

I would also go back to the Letting Agent - in writing and copy it to the LL. I would confirm that you passed all mail for old tenant on to the agent. You need to draft a brief letter explaining the seriousness of the current situation and that they could be held responsible by the LL if they failed to pass on the mail to the old tenant. You also want confirmation in writing that the agent passed or will pass on old tenant's details to UW. Of course in a TA there would have been an address for serving notice. Did agent pass this address on to UW ? If not, why not ? Did the agent advise the LL of any problem ?

You need to take YOU out the equation.

Pass the buck to the agent and the LL.

YOU hold the agent and LL responsible for this violation of your privacy, safety and peaceful rental of the property.

 

I would also get help in drafting a strong letter to UW explaining very simply that you are not responsible for any debt prior to a certain date of your TA beginning, nor for them changing the locks to your home, or the costs of fitting a pp meter. You could send them a copy of the letter you sent them in Jan/Feb advising them of the start of your TA ;)

 

Personally I have an alternative view - you need to look hard at whether you both wish to stay in this property anyway. I mean, between the letting agent, the old tenant and UW (and maybe even with the LL's knowledge too), your safety and peaceful enjoyment of the property has been compromised. This kind of means breach of the TA. Which means that you can opt out the property and go live somewhere else, without losing the deposit, maybe suggesting compensation for your troubles, and then start afresh, this time letting the utility supplier know immediately !!!

 

Bottom line, all this hassle is not really your hassle. If you can send UW the TA, your current reading and your start reading - which should I guess match up with the letting agents/ inventory clerks end reading of the last tenant - then it will be clear what your utility liability is. Pay your liabiity and move on.

Let the LL sort out the issue of change of locks and the old debt.

 

Just my 2p worth....

Edited by HP Mum

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I disagree that it is the OPs fault.

 

Quite clearly UW want money for an old debt. OP is not liable for that debt. OP is not liable for any dca charges nor is he liable for the costs of fitting a pre-paid meter or any additional costs added to his current and future bills if he stays with UW.

UW's behaviour is clearly unacceptable.

They broke into someone's home chasing someone else's debt without verifying who lives in that home now. That is wrong.

 

Now, the first thing to do is speak to the LL. The LL either knows about this problem and should bear the costs or is in the dark and is bound to be extremely angry at having new locks and prepayment meter in the property and will legally pursue the old tenant through the courts for reimbursement of all the costs. As a LL myself, I would be furious.

It is actually not your problem, even though you think / feel it is right now. It is the LL's. You have every right to distance yourself from this issue.

 

I would also go back to the Letting Agent - in writing and copy it to the LL. I would confirm that you passed all mail for old tenant on to the agent. You need to draft a brief letter explaining the seriousness of the current situation and that they could be held responsible by the LL if they failed to pass on the mail to the old tenant. You also want confirmation in writing that the agent passed or will pass on old tenant's details to UW. Of course in a TA there would have been an address for serving notice. Did agent pass this address on to UW ? If not, why not ? Did the agent advise the LL of any problem ? You need to take YOU out the equation. Pass the buck to the agent and the LL. YOU hold the agent and LL responsible for this violation of your privacy, safety and peaceful rental of the property.

I would also get help in drafting a strong letter to UW explaining very simply that you are not responsible for any debt prior to a certain date of your TA beginning, nor for them changing the locks to your home, or the costs of fitting a pp meter. You could send them a copy of the letter you sent them in Jan/Feb advising them of the start of your TA ;)

 

Personally I have an alternative view - you need to look hard at whether you both wish to stay in this property anyway. I mean, between the letting agent, the old tenant and UW (and maybe even with the LL's knowledge too), your safety and peaceful enjoyment of the property has been compromised. This kind of means breach of the TA. Which means that you can opt out the property and go live somewhere else, without losing the deposit, maybe suggesting compensation for your troubles, and then start afresh, this time letting the utility supplier know immediately !!!

 

Bottom line, all this hassle is not really your hassle. If you can send UW the TA, your current reading and your start reading - which should I guess match up with the letting agents/ inventory clerks end treading of the last tenant - then it will be clear what your utility liability is. Pay your liabiity and move on.

Let the LL sort out the issue of change of locks and the old debt.

 

Just my 2p worth....

 

The first thing Blomguist needs to do is contact UW and sort out payment for his current use of Gas and Electric as i posted above Today at 20:38 Hrs

 

Its all very well debating who's fault it is or not,where still be here next week debating this,buy most of you have missed the main point Those pre-payment meter will shorty cut off the supply

 

and Blomguist will have No Gas or Electric until he contacts UW and sort somethink out with them..

 


Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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But this is not his debt.

So UW has no right to cut him off.

He should hand in notice and go. Let LL and agent sort it out. And pay for his use.

But he needs to ensure that everything is in writing.

Anyways, enough from me.

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Here is my take on the situation as I see it.

 

The previous tenant had been receiving letters etc from UW and had more than likely been given a date for the final action to take place if he/she didn't pay their dues. (To get to the stage mentioned by the OP generally takes quites some time, it doesn't happen in a few weeks).

 

The previous tenant moved out (did a runner) and possibly didn't even tell the L/L.

 

New tenant moves in but doesn't contact UW to register his details.

 

The "enforcement day" arrives and the company working on behalf of UW enforce the Warrant unaware a new tenant has moved in.

 

result

 

One unhappy new tenant and one happy old tenant ( he left having had free gas/electric probably for many months), and one unhappy company because they lost a lot of money.

 

I could be wrong but this is probably close to what happened.

 

Probably if UW had taken action sooner this would all have been sorted out before the OP moved in, and had he informed them he had moved in, the Warrant action could have been stopped.

 

An unfortunate chain of events but if the OP sends his Tenancy agreement to UW as requested he can hopely get things sorted out to his satisfaction.

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But this is not his debt.

So UW has no right to cut him off.

He should hand in notice and go. Let LL and agent sort it out. And pay for his use.

But he needs to ensure that everything is in writing.

Anyways, enough from me.

 

OK

 

Lets put it this way

 

Forget for the time beaning about this so called break in

 

Blomquist has said there are 2 pre-payments meter installed and he has lived there since Jan 2010 and lets say Blomquist is not moving out for the time beaning,moving cost more money and even more hassle,especially if they have paid a large deposit..

 

and

nor were payment keys/cards for either.
where not left,the reason why No keys/cards left for Blomquist to top up the pre-payments is,Utility Warehouse want who ever living there to ring them up for details of the tenant.

 

This is what some of you don't understand..................

 

Those pre payment meters will have very little credit left on them when fitted,they usual leave £5.00 or what ever to last until they can be topped up.

 

Pre payment meters Will soon run out of Credit and cut off Blomquist Gas and Electric,which clearly will happen very soon as Blomquist has no keys/card topped them up.

 

What does Blomquist do when there is No gas or electric in his flat.

 

Q1. Sit there with No gas and electric and Wait for the landlord/letting Agent to sort the problem ?

 

Q2. Blomquist contacts Utility Warehouse himself and sorts the problem out ?

 

Q3. Do nothing and sit there with No gas and electric ?

 

Look forward to your Answers.......................

Edited by 45002
HP Mum post.................

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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The previous tenant moved out (did a runner) and possibly didn't even tell the L/L.

 

New tenant moves in but doesn't contact UW to register his details.

 

The "enforcement day" arrives and the company working on behalf of UW enforce the Warrant unaware a new tenant has moved in.

 

result

 

One unhappy new tenant and one happy old tenant ( he left having had free gas/electric probably for many months), and one unhappy company because they lost a lot of money.

 

I could be wrong but this is probably close to what happened.

 

Probably if UW had taken action sooner this would all have been sorted out before the OP moved in, and had he informed them he had moved in, the Warrant action could have been stopped.

 

I'd change that slightly

 

result

 

One unhappy new tenant having had free gas/electric probably for many months and expected this to continue for many more has been caught out

 

A much more likely situation.

 

if OP had taken action sooner this would all have been sorted out and non of this would have happened.

 

The tenancy agreement will have a clause in it stating that from the day of commencement that the tenant becomes responsible for all utility bills. So would approaching the landlord or letting agent to sort out a mess that they have caused due to them not fulfilling their contractual requirements be a good idea?

 

The old tenants debt has only become an issue because the new tenant for whatever reason failed to notify them of his responsibility and liability to pay the utility bills which came with moving in.

 

Whilst UWs' subsequent actions are questionable in how they have been implemented (notification etc) you can't really place any blame on them for what they've done only how they've gone about it.

 

Whilst the OP may be being truthful and that this was down to their naivety I'm afraid the view I expressed above is how it will be viewed by most.

 

I'd suggest a very grovelling & appologetic

 

Q2. Blomquist contacts Utility Warehouse himself and sorts the problem out ?

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